Olivier Giroud, supersub extraordinaire, nabs points for Arsenal at Southampton

FC Yahoo

Olivier Giroud came off the bench and added to his supersub legend by nicking a point for Arsenal at Southampton on Sunday.

Giroud, who hasn’t started a Premier League match all season, entered the fray in the 72nd minute. With two minutes of the 90 to play, he canceled out Charlie Austin’s third-minute opener, and made Southampton pay for its inability to put Arsenal away on the counter.

The Gunners appeared set to slump to their second-straight Premier League defeat. And whereas last week’s against Manchester United was understandable and unfortunate, this Sunday’s performance was simply underwhelming.

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The visitors very easily could have been 2-0 down inside five minutes. Per Mertesacker came in for the injured Shkodran Mustafi, and was, quite literally, several steps off the pace. His stumble allowed Dusan Tadic to play Austin in for an early wake-up call:

For 85 minutes thereafter, Southampton was savvy and balanced. Tadic, Austin and Nathan Redmond looked capable of hitting Arsenal on the break, but failed to connect in front of goal.

After a memorable, multi-pronged, comprehensive attacking display against United, Arsenal was relatively toothless. For short stretches, it would pin Southampton back. But it was the Saints who looked more likely to score. Oriol Romeu struck the crossbar. Ryan Bertrand was played in cleverly by Tadic, but couldn’t finish.

Arsene Wenger threw on Danny Welbeck for Mertesacker, and Jack Wilshere for Granit Xhaka, but nothing much changed. It was the third substitute, Giroud, who conjured up the equalizer.

Because of how it came about, the point will be accompanied by some relief. But it won’t be entirely satisfactory, either. It ran counter to the Arsenal resurgence narrative, which, despite the United loss, was a very legitimate one.

Sunday’s draw halted that resurgence more than last weekend’s loss did. Southampton was the better team, and probably deserved all three points. Arsenal’s frailties seemed to re-emerge, and any advantage in the race for the top four all but disappeared.

Olivier Giroud celebrates his late equalizer for Arsenal at Southampton. (Getty)
Olivier Giroud celebrates his late equalizer for Arsenal at Southampton. (Getty)

 

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